The Hipster Movie Crisis

The Hipster Movie Crisis: A VideoReport Special, um, Report- by Dennis.
Over the past several years, a disturbing trend has swept the formerly smugly complacent hipster fan community as films made by the stars and creators of many of the television programs near and dear to the rudely ironic, t-shirt clad heart of today’s hipsters have been met with commercial indifference, critical dismissal, and embarrassed, sidelong glances from those in the hipster community on their way out of mostly empty theaters. While defiant hipster spokespeople rolls their eyes and claim that, “as usual, the media and the sheep just don’t get it”, their voices, usually so dismissively blasé, betray the cold, shrill edge of desperation, the unspeakable dread that their emperors have no baggy, stylishly ripped clothes. Does this creative drought mean that the hipster tv classics aren’t as good as we , I mean those hipsters, thought? The VideoReport set out to find out.
Example one: Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny.
Hipster cred: Jack Black and Kyle Gass are Tenacious D, the greatest comedy rock band since Spinal Tap. Totally stole the show from Weezer when the D opened for them at the Civic Center a few years ago. Their debut self-titled album is one of the funniest, rocking-est things ever. Their self-titled, short-lived HBO sitcom was a surrealist hoot. Jack Black is one of the funniest scene-stealers in movies today.
Hipster friends: Their sitcom spun off from Mr. Show with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross as producers. John C. Reilly plays Sasquatch in both the tv show and film. Tim Robbins cameos in the film, as does Amy Poehler. Mr. Show alums Jay Johnston and Paul F. Tompkins also show up.
What Went Wrong?: Damned to be faint-praised with “it was pretty funny”, The Pick of Destiny doesn’t have enough direction, comedically, to carry it through for 93 minutes. Get ready to hear this complaint a lot: like a series of blackout sketches lazily strung together.
Rating (out of 10) on the internet movie database: 6.8.
My Rating: 6.

Example two: Let’s Go To Prison

Hipster cred: Directed by Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show. Starring Will Arnett (hilarious as Gob Bluth in Arrested Development). Written by Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant from The State and Reno 911.
Hipster friends: David Koechner (improv master from Anchorman, Talladega Nights and others). Jerry Minor from Mr. Show in a cameo.
What Went Wrong? Just not a very good script. Odenkirk (who directed an interesting indie called Melvin Goes to Dinner) seems unable to settle on a comedic tone, which is jarring, and in comedy, rhythm is key. Arnett has some funny bits, as does Dax Shepard (who usually does nothing for me) and Chi McBride, but mostly they’re left stranded.
IMDb’s Rating: 5.
My Rating: That’s about right.
Example three: Strangers With Candy- The Movie
Hipster cred: Based on the hilarious, outrageous show of the same name (in the Comedy section at Videoport), which offends absolutely everyone while taking the afterschool special format out for a weekly ride. Starring and written by Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert, comedic originals all.
Hipster friends: Cameos by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Allison Janney. Also a funny bit from Sir Ian Holm, which I include, not necessarily for its hipster quotient, but for its sheer improbability.
What Went Wrong?
The necessity of crafting a conventional, 97-minute narrative means a cobbled-together, “ignore the show ever existed and start from scratch” feel; stuff gets rushed in some places, while in others it drags. Some funny ideas seem like retreads from the show, while others (the terrible science fair finale) should never have been acted upon. The addition of married mediocrities Mathew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker actually subtract from the enterprise. Again, “not bad, but…”
IMDb Rating: 6.1.
My Rating: 6.
Example four: Martin and Orloff
Hipster cred: Written by and starring Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts, two of the stars of The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, probably the best sketch comedy show since Monty Python. Also stars Amy Poehler and Matt Besser, the other two members of the UCB.
Hipster friends: H. Jon Benjamin, hilarious voice talent from the animated Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist and Home Movies (he was Coach McGuirk). Andy Richter, Tina Fey, and David Cross all have cameos.
What Went Wrong? There are some darkly funny laughs to be found here, and the scruffy, low budget New York feel is a plus, but, for two very intelligent guys, Walsh and Roberts include some dumb gags (the finale’s rescue by giant peeny joke), and the whole enterprise is pretty flat.
IMDb Rating: a generous 7.1.
My Rating: a more realistic 6.
Do these recent examples seem to suggest that the hipster tv vibe cannot survive the leap to feature length? Is it true, as someone suggests to David Cross’ character Tobias Funke in Arrested Development, that he is merely “a television actor”? (His reply, an abashed “ouch”). Will The Simpsons Movie redeem not only “The Simpsons”, but the hipster genre itself*? If I had done my research and seen The Trailer Park Boys Movie and Reno 911!:Miami, would my conclusions have been different**? Only effort would have told. In the meantime, Mr. Show, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Reno 911!, Dr. Katz, Home Movies, The Trailer Park Boys, Tenacious D: The Complete Masterworks, Arrested Development, Strangers With Candy and other hipster tv classics are available to rent at Videoport; take them home and watch them with people who “get it” today!
*Sadly, it served to solidify the central premise.
**Now that I’ve seen ’em, both The Trailer ParkBoys Movie and Reno 911: Miami proved minor exceptions to the premise; they were both well above average and modest successes (not financially, of course).
Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: